You didn't think I'd let the final seconds of 2006 tick away without posting my top-10 list, did ya!? You guys continue to underestimate me, and, well, it's starting to hurt a little.
1. The Shield: TV's most arresting hour hit a new creative peak this year, due in no small part to Forest Whitaker's mesmerizing turn as Mackey's latest foe, Kavanaugh. The Shield was also responsible for this season's most delightfully perverse line of dialogue, a five-syllable grenade lobbed at Kavanaugh by his cuckoo ex mere moments after she'd shagged Mackey: "He made me c--. Twice." Funny, I had a similar reaction upon hearing those words.
2. Battlestar Galactica: On any other show, a sudden, one-year jump would reek of desperation. But on Battlestar, it was yet another bold move for a show that continues to reinvent the sci-fi genre. Those still not on board should just go frak themselves.
3. Friday Night Lights: Don't let the show's "football as a metaphor for life" conceit scare you off. I mean, sure, FNL can be deeply profound, and the performances - particularly Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as TV's best husband-wife duo - are revelatory, but let's be real: FNL is, at its core, a soap opera, and an unbelievably addictive one at that. Speaking of unbelievably addictive soap operas....
4. Grey's Anatomy: I haven't been this excited about a prime-time serial since Angela Channing literally opened that Pandora's box and learned that her nemesis Richard was her son.
5. Scrubs: I know what you're thinking: I only included Scrubs in my top 10 because Bill Lawrence promised to give me a speaking part if I did. Well, that thought is nothing short of insulting. (And even if it were true, good luck proving it.) No, Scrubs made my top 10 because it dares to do things like pit Donald Faison against a bunch of medical ninjas set to Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting."
6. Ugly Betty: I'll admit it: I assumed Betty would collapse under the weight of its own lofty (and somewhat limited) ambitions as early as Week 2, much like Desperate Housewives did in its freshman year. Could I have been more wrong? Not only has the show maintained all of the pilot's heart and humor, but it continues to raise the bar by revealing new layers of "Mode" magazine's seemingly one-note peanut gallery. And America Ferrera is this year's Keri Russell. Coming from me, there's no higher compliment.
7. 24: Chloe with a stun gun. 'Nuff said.
8. The Sopranos: All those whack-happy dissenters groaning that "nothing happened" were kind of missing the point of this penultimate batch of episodes. The point was... um... OK, I'm not sure what the point was, but damn, I'll take a "bad" season of The Sopranos over a good season of [insert any of 100 other shows] any day.
9. Lost: Despite the occasional lapse of judgment - Charlie's kidnapping of Sun teetered dangerously close to jump-the-shark territory - Lost was still a thrilling ride. Not that it mattered much.... The casting of Elizabeth Mitchell alone was enough to clinch its spot in my top 10.
10. The View: Before Rosie, I'd tune in maybe once a month. After Rosie? Every. Frakkin'. Day.
Honorable mentions: Heroes, Deadwood, Project Runway, Everwood, Veronica Mars, Dexter (yes, I'm officially on board), "Oprah and Gayle's Big Adventure," Everybody Hates Chris and Brothers & Sisters. UPDATE: I had a senior moment and forgot to include Project Runway, Entourage and The O.C. among my honorable mentions. My bad.
What about my worst list? Check out next week's Ask Ausiello for that. Unless, of course, I forget. In which case, don't check out AA for that.
Happy New Year!